Friday, September 17, 2010

Racism a result of S'pore's stint in Malaysia: Mahathir

Sep 15, 2010

He says there was less racial politics before that


Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that racism in Malaysia is the result of Singapore's two-year membership in Malaysia.

Rebutting recent comments made by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Tun Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog: 'With the background of Singapore's activities in Malaysia in the short three (sic) years of its membership, can we really believe that if it had not been 'turfed out', race relations would be better in Malaysia?

'While Kwan Yew (sic) talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that 'once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority'.'

Mr Lee, in an interview with The New York Times, compared how Singapore and Malaysia handled racial relations.

He said Malaysia would have achieved much of what Singapore had accomplished if it had accepted a multiracial base, and described Malaysia as being in a 'most unhappy situation'.
'I think if the Tunku had kept us together, what we did in Singapore - had Malaysia accepted a multiracial base for their society - much of what we've achieved in Singapore would have been achieved in Malaysia. But not as much, because it's a much broader base. We would have improved inter-racial relations and an improved holistic situation,' Mr Lee had said in the interview, referring to Malaysia's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

But Dr Mahathir rejected the view, saying it was 'not supported by facts of history'.
'Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia,' he wrote.

[Yes, because the Brits were in control. And if Singapore was the reason for race politics then excising Singapore from the Federation would be like cutting out the cancerous growth leaving the body healthy. Instead the "cancer" prospered while the "healthy body" got sicker. What does the facts of history say then? Which is the cancer and which is the healthy body.]

Singapore became a part of Malaysia in 1963. Dr Mahathir claimed that Mr Lee reneged on a promise that the People's Action Party (PAP) would not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics and attempted to displace the Malaysian Chinese Association in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular.

'Of course the slogan was 'Malaysian Malaysia', which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial,' the 85-year-old Dr Mahathir said.

[Not just the Chinese. In any case, the "Malaysian Malaysia" slogan was a response to UMNO's "Malay Malaysia" policy which is an explicitly race-based policy.]

He said that following the Malaysian Malaysia campaign, a few Umno leaders tried to rouse Singapore Malay sentiments. 'There were demonstrations in Singapore where before there were none. Kwan Yew accused Jaafar Albar for instigating the Singapore Malays. Although I never went to Singapore, nor met the Malays there, I was labelled a Malay-ultra by Kwan Yew himself,' he added.

[A Malay-Ultra is a political position, a state of mind. A "Malay-Ultra" is not defined by whether one met with the Malays in Singapore.]

By 1965, racism had taken hold and the Tunku was forced to end Singapore's membership in Malaysia, the former Malaysian premier wrote.

Dr Mahathir also took aim at politics across the Causeway. 'Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese, and has won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake,' he said.
'If Singapore is a part of Malaysia, the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics, because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country,' he wrote.

'Amnesia is permissible, but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been 'turfed out' for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history.'

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin had on Monday said that Mr Lee's remarks were 'ill-informed and coloured with historical bias'.

But Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said Mr Lee's remarks were a 'historical statement', while Selangor executive councillor and opposition politician Teresa Kok said Singapore was ahead of Malaysia because it placed merit above race considerations.

Tan Sri Khalid said Mr Lee had a right to express his mind about the issue, just as Dr Mahathir also had a right. 'You can't say Singapore has progressed while Malaysia has not. Malaysia's progress is subject to several constraints, and so is Singapore's,' he told the Malaysian Insider. 'The future is not about that, it's about how we can work together.'

[It is perhaps better to look forward to opportunities to work together. That said, certainly MM has the right to speak of his memories and recollections. Unfortuniately, history is written by the victors, and the victors are the ones who get interviewed. Losers write blogs. ]

Ms Kok said: 'One of the key reasons of Singapore's success as a small city nation is because it is out of racial politics and concentrates on merit.' It successfully attracted a talented pool as well as investors from all over the world because of such policies.

MCA president Chua Soi Lek admitted that race relations are not as good as they should be. But it would be unfair 'to say that Malay leaders always harp on Malay superiority. This is the tactic of the opposition to make Umno look bad', Bernama quoted him as saying.

Sep 17, 2010
Mahathir's remarks
'Blaming Singapore for the animosity between the races in Malaysia is an attempt to absolve himself.'

MR LEE SECK KAY: 'Contrary to former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's claim in Wednesday's report ('Racism a result of S'pore's stint in Malaysia: Mahathir'), Malaysia's current racial problem is of its own making. It stems from a national policy where some are more equal than others. When he was in power, Tun Dr Mahathir did little to ensure equal opportunity for all races; instead of uniting Malaysians, he polarised them, to the detriment of many non-Malays. Blaming Singapore, particularly Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, for the animosity today between the races in Malaysia is an attempt to absolve himself. At the same time, he is jeopardising efforts by the two governments to harmonise and strengthen relationships.'

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